Today we welcome coach Kevin Carr to the show to talk about the importance of coach/client relationships, movement quality, principles of programming, progressions and regressions, his work with hockey players and endurance athletes, and cognitive health.
Kevin has worked at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning for 12 years as a strength coach, personal trainer, and as a manager. Additionally he is a manual therapist and runs a rehab clinic called Movement As Medicine along with four other coaches where they look to help MBSC clients bridge the gap back to training from rehabilitation. Finally, Kevin is also the founder and manager at Certified Functional Strength Coach alongside Mike Boyle and Brendan Rearick.
We first get into Kevin’s background and how he got started at MBSC. At age 18, he was a self proclaimed 18 year old meathead working at a Gold’s Gym. At the time he was a CPT and was going to be going to school for Kinesiology, and it was through a member of the gym who had told him about an internship opportunity at Mike Boyle’s facility. Kevin applied, was accepted, and has been there ever since. Around 2014, Kevin and fellow MBSC coach Brendan Rearick had both gone through massage school and opened up their clinic Movement As Medicine within the walls of MBSC.
Next, we talk about Kevin’s evolution as a coach from the time he first walked through the doors of MBSC to where he is at now. The first thing he learned was how to train people like athletes and put the emphasis on moving well as opposed to just crushing them with excess load or volume. Furthermore, he learned the importance of communication and how to build relationships with his clients, which flew in the face of what he thought coaching was about at the time. Kevin talks about the value of being personable with every member within the facility, regardless if they’re your client or not. While he is naturally more introverted, coaching has allowed him to develop his extroverted skills and he expects all of his coaches to follow suit and fit within the outgoing culture of the facility.
We then transition into some training talk starting with principles of program design. The first thing they address at MBSC is that they don’t want people to be in pain, so they teach progressions and regressions so that clients can work around injuries. The first step of designing any program is the prep work intended to improve movement quality and having alternatives on hand for clients who need to make modifications. The next thing he looks at is basic locomotion (skipping, hopping, bounding) and power development while scaling to the individual. With the actual strength component of a program, he wants to address the fundamental movement patterns, both bilaterally and unilaterally while ensuring that clients are using the appropriate exercise, load, and volume.
While the framework of the basic template doesn’t change much from person to person, Kevin still uses an individualized approach by regressing and progressing movements according to what the client is capable of doing. This starts by having an understanding of what is limiting the client along with basic principles of anatomy and biomechanics. Coaches need a keen eye for movement, which takes time in the trenches to develop. This leads into a discussion on exercise selection and not creating more complexity just for the sake of it. As a coach you need to remember that just because you might be bored of an exercise, doesn’t mean that your client is. The basics go a long way and most people will never reach the point of mastery.
We switch gears and take a peek at the type of clients that Kevin works with most. While a broad array of people walk through the doors at MBSC, they have created a niche with hockey players and surprisingly to him, runners and endurance athletes. When talking about his work with endurance athletes, oftentimes they will come to him in pain not because of a mechanical issue but a programming one due to their willingness to suffer. He has found that the strength bucket with these athletes is so empty that even just a little bit can go a long way for them in terms of injury prevention and running economy.
With hockey players, there are also some unique characteristics due to the repetitive stress of always being on the ice. The same adaptations that have made them fast on the ice are usually not the same ones that lend themselves towards stellar weightroom performance. With this in mind, Kevin is looking to find ways to add stability, particularly at the pelvis and hips, in order to get them to access better positions. While he is going to have his hockey players go through various interventions, Kevin makes the distinction that he is not necessarily going to get huge changes on table tests. His number one barometer is instead getting these athletes to feel better when they get off the ice and when they’re in the weight room so that they can continue to build capacity.
Lastly we delve into Kevin’s current interest in cognitive health, which is of personal interest to him since he has a family history of Alzheimer’s and works with quite a few general population clients who are in their 50’s and 60’s. He uses various cognitive assessments as well as activities within training that coordinate the left and right side of the brain and stimulate neuroplasticity. Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases are among the fastest growing diseases in the world, and Kevin believes that as fitness professionals we have an opportunity to really help people who may not necessarily care about their in the gym performance but still want to be mentally sharp as they grow into old age.
5:35 - Kevin’s background
9:59 - How Kevin’s model as evolved over the years
17: 20 - Training talk and program design
24:20 - Regressions and progressions within exercise selection
29:00 - The different types of clients Kevin works with
33:47 - The unique challenges of working with hockey players